Sam Patten, former Manafort associate, charged with illegal lobbying

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A business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian consultant indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, pleaded guilty on Friday to failing to register as a lobbyist for a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Patten that she couldn't provide any estimate of Patten's potential sentence because U.S. sentencing guidelines don't have a section for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

But court documents released later in the day revealed that the Samuel Patten's guilty plea brings the case directly to the president's doorstep.

Along with being an associate of Manafort's and an employee at the OR office of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, Patten was also an old friend and regular business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a man suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort was recently convicted on eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. According to the charging document, both men repeatedly attempted to tamper with witness testimony in Mueller's Russian Federation probe related to Manafort's political consulting work.

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Prosecutors said Patten formed a company with the Russian national and it received $1,000,000 for its work advising Ukraine's Opposition Bloc party, including a prominent Ukraine oligarch.

Sam Patten was charged under Foreign Agents Registration Act. However, a member of Mueller's team, Andrew Weissmann, was present in the courtroom Friday.

Patten appeared in federal court in Washington on Friday.

Court papers say Patten orchestrated a $50,000 payment to the inauguration committee through a third party to circumvent restrictions on foreign donations to the inaugural committee - a so-called "straw purchase".

Lyovochkin's name also came up during Manafort's trial earlier this month.

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Patten also, in January 2017, arranged for the Ukrainian oligarch to attend Trump's inauguration. Prosecutors detailed how he was among the wealthy Ukrainian businessmen who paid Manafort for his own political consulting work. Mr. Patten faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000.

Patten also reportedly worked at the OR office of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Group, on voter targeting in the US 2014 midterm election cycle, according to the Daily Beast, which said he described his work as developing "microtargeting" technologies "adopted by at least one major USA presidential candidate".

Patten praised Kilimnik at the time as a person who helped Manafort navigate the complicated Ukrainian political scene.

Patten also said he lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his foreign dealings.

Patten violated FARA by contacting members of Congress, the executive branch, and the media without disclosing that work to the Justice Department, according to the documents. Also in attendance was Scott Claffee, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department's National Security Division. Kilimnik was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in June on money laundering and bank fraud charges.

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